IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Lt. Col. Vindman receives applause. TRANSCRIPT: 11/19/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Sean Patrick Maloney, Tess Bridgeman, Tom Nichols, Mimi Rocah

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

You know, I saw the hearing cut into the first half hour of Chris Hayes` excellent show, and it occurred to me if they had some House votes that dragged this out even longer it could have -- it could have theoretically cut into "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW".  So I want you --

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, and I wouldn`t have put in contact lenses at all. 

O`DONNELL:  No, no, here`s what would have happened.  I want you and your viewers to know that if and when that happens in the impeachment hearing scandal, you get all the time you want on this side of 10:00 p.m.  You just let it roll just like the hearing let it roll into over time past 10:00 p.m. 

Don`t even think about it.  Use up all your material.  Don`t lose anything if they go into your time. 

MADDOW:  Only if you and I are in the same city so we can sit at the same desk and juggle that together. 

O`DONNELL:  That`s the plan. 

MADDOW:  Because that is the only way I would do that.

O`DONNELL:  That is the plan.  We`re going to be watching tomorrow night, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Appreciate it, my friend. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

Well, in the first impeachment hearing of the day this morning, the Republican complaint about hearsay finally disappeared. 


REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Ms. Williams, you heard the call with your own ears, right? 


MALONEY:  Not secondhand, not hearsay.  You heard the president speak, you heard his voice on the call? 

WILLIAMS:  Correct. 

MALONEY:  And your conclusion was, what he said about investigating the Bidens was in your words unusual and inappropriate, I believe.  Am I right?

WILLIAMS:  That was my testimony. 

MALONEY:  You heard it with your own ears.


MALONEY:  Not secondhand, not from somebody else, not hearsay, right? 

VINDMAN:  Correct. 

MALONEY:  You heard the president`s voice on the call. 

VINDMAN:  I did. 

MALONEY:  And you heard him raise that subject again that Ambassador Sondland had raised before about investigating the Bidens, right? 

VINDMAN:  I did. 

MALONEY:  And I want to ask you, when you heard him say that, what was the first thought that went through your mind? 

VINDMAN:  Frankly, I couldn`t believe what I was hearing.  It was probably an element of shock that may be in certain regards my worst fear of how Ukrainian policy could play out was playing out.  How this could have implications for U.S. national security. 

MALONEY:  And you went immediately and reported it, didn`t you? 

VINDMAN:  I did. 


VINDMAN:  Because that was my duty. 


O`DONNELL:  Because that was my duty.

That was Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.  He will join us in just a moment. 

The first two witnesses of the day were Jennifer Williams, a career foreign officer in the State Department, who is currently detailed to the staff of Vice President Mike Pence and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who is currently detailed to the staff of the White House National Security Council.  They both listened to President Trump`s phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine in which President Trump asked President Zelensky to do him a favor, the favor of investigating Joe Biden. 

In other words, a favor for the president`s re-election campaign.  In this afternoon`s hearing, a long time Republican congressional staff, Tim Morrison, who served in the Trump White House as the senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council, explained what was at stake for Ukraine in the president`s request for an investigation of Joe Biden. 


TIMOTHY MORRISON, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE IN THE NSC:  President Zelensky left the room, Vice President Pence left the room and then in sort of an anteroom, Ambassador Sondland and presidential advisor Yermak had this discussion, yes. 

DAN GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR DEMOCRATS ON INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  And what did Ambassador Sondland say to tell you that he told Mr. Yermak? 

MORRISON:  That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted. 


O`DONNELL:  In that testimony, Tim Morrison delivered the essence of what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now calling the bribery case against Donald Trump.  Trump was trying to pay a bribe to the president of Ukraine so that the president of Ukraine would publicly announce an investigation of Joe Biden.  And because this is Donald Trump we`re talking about, he was using other people`s money for his bribe.  He was using $400 million of American taxpayer money authorized by Congress. 

Today`s testimony established that Donald Trump was not going to hand over that money to Ukraine without getting something back for himself.  The former special envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, testified that the investigation Donald Trump was asking for, the investigation of Joe Biden was ludicrous. 


AMB. KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE:  Mayor Giuliani raised and I rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his son.  As I`ve previously testified, I`ve known Vice President Biden for 24 years.  He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard.  At no time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden. 


O`DONNELL:  Republicans kept insisting the hold up in the funding for Ukraine was perfectly normal. 


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  My colleagues asked about, well, doesn`t aid get held up for all kinds of reasons? 

Ambassador Volker, have you ever seen military aid held up because a president wanted his rival investigated? 

VOLKER:  No, I`ve not seen that. 

SCHIFF:  Have you ever seen that, Mr. Williams?  Mr. Morrison, I`m sorry. 

MORRISON:  No, Chairman. 


O`DONNELL:  And not a single Republican on the committee was willing to admit that the president finally dropped his hold on the Ukraine aid because the president got caught, because a whistle-blower filed a complaint about what the president was doing in the house of representatives immediately started to investigate.  And only after that did President Trump finally stop blocking the funding for Ukraine. 


SCHIFF:  Now, my Republican colleagues, all they seem to be upset about with this is not that the president sought an investigation of his political rival, not that he withheld a White House meeting and $400 million in aid we all passed on a bipartisan basis to pressure Ukraine to do those investigations, their objection is he got caught.  Their objection is that someone blew the whistle.  And they would like this whistle-blower identified.  And the president wants this whistle-blower punished. 

That`s their objection.  Not that the president engaged in this conduct but that he got caught.  Their defense is, well, he ended up releasing the aid.  Yes, after he got caught.  That doesn`t make this any less odious. 


O`DONNELL:  Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman came to this country at age 3, fleeing the oppression of the Soviet Union with his family.  He and his two brothers have all served in the American military.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman ended his opening statement this morning on a personal note. 


VINDMAN:  I`m grateful for my father`s brave act of hope 40 years ago and for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant where I can live free -- free of fear for mine and my family`s safety. 

Dad, I`m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals, talking to our elected professional is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union, come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family.  Do not worry.  I will be fine for telling the truth. 

Thank you again for your consideration.  I will be happy to answer your questions. 


O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight are: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under-secretary of state in the Obama administration.  She`s an MSNBC global affairs contributor. 

Ned Price is a former CIA analyst and a former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama administration.  He is an MSNBC national security contributor. 

And John Heilemann is with us. He`s national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.  He`s editor-in-chief of "The Recount". 

And, John, I want to go to you to begin with your overview of the day of hearings. 

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  A long day for sure but also a powerful day, I think.  There`s been -- in terms of these -- these are public hearings, they`re in the public persuasion and the human drama around Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was I think maybe the most striking of the public witnesses in this period so far. 

And I think you can`t help but be struck by the fact that the evidence continues to pileup in a clear and consistent way, telling the same story over and over again as you see Volker walking back parts of his prior testimony to now conquer with the unanimity of the other witnesses like there being quid pro quo, and you also see the second half of the day, the witnesses Republicans wanted to have up there doing Donald Trump more damage than good. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ned Price, so much of this goes right into your area of expertise, National Security Council procedures.  I just want to give you a wide open field for all the testimony you heard today looked out through your expert prism. 

NED PRICE, OBAMA NATIONAL SECUREITY COUNCIL FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR:  You know, I think it was a really stark contrast between this morning`s hearing and afternoon hearing.  This morning`s hearing, you heard from two patriots.  People who had skewed politics for much of their careers, who had their positions not because therapy loyal to a president or loyal to a party but because they worked their way up, and through talent and determination and grit had both established themselves in the White House.  In the case of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman in the West Wing, in the case of the other through the vice president. 

This afternoon, you saw a different story.  And I think you saw two men who, to use Kurt Volker`s term, were still trying to thread a needle.  And when Kurt Volker used that term, he sort of described that as the challenge he had to satisfy President Trump but also to do what was in the national interest of the United States.  But it seems like he`s still doing that and along with Tim Morrison, it`s not that they`re still trying to satisfy President Trump and trying to represent the United States, and neither of them are in still government.  What they`re trying to do now is salvage their credibility without perjuring themselves, and they`ve made that very difficult. 

And I think you saw this on the part of Kurt Volker today when he made some comments that really strain credulity, claiming that he didn`t understand the connection between Bidens and Burisma, for example, something that Tim Morrison he testified that he Googled within ten days of taking his position and it was clear as day.  On Tim Morrison`s part, you heard him say you didn`t find the call on July 25 inappropriate, and yet he went right to the lawyers.

And it`s these things that really don`t square and I think paints a really unflattering portrait of individuals like these who were in plain society in D.C. and want to stay there regardless of the cost.

O`DONNELL:  Wendy Sherman, with your range of expertise, I want to give you that same opening to review whatever it is that strikes you the most in today`s hearings. 

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS:  Well, certainly everyone was moved by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s close to opening statement really invoking his father, invoking we do right here as he said in his testimony.  And it was really quite scurrilous that while he was testifying use the White House`s Twitter account, the White House was tweeting out vicious things about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.  He`s now under protection of the U.S. Army, he and his family. 

That`s really outrageous in this day and age.  They`re treating him as if he`s a disloyal American when he`s in fact a true patriot.  They talked about whether, in fact, by being offered to be the defense minister for Ukraine, he was disloyal to America. 

I`d remind our viewers that Madeleine Albright when she was secretary of state afterwards was urge by the Czech Republic, her native land, though she`s been an American for a very, very long time now, to become president, and she like Vindman thought it was quite amusing.  And I don`t think Republicans believe that Madeleine Albright is disloyal to America and neither is Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. 

The other thing in terms of this afternoon that I really want people to understand is the Republicans keep saying that Zelensky never said that he was under pressure.  Of course he didn`t.  He needs the United States.  He needs Donald Trump no matter how awful the president is.  No matter how corrupt or how much of a bribe this is. 

And if he admitted he was under pressure, he weakens himself as a president.  So we`re never going to hear him say he was pressured.  It was a misunderstanding of the bargain that leaders around the world feel they have to make with this president because they have their national interests at stake even if our president doesn`t have our national interests in his mind. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Colonel Vindman said in his opening statement about some of the other witnesses who have come forward. 


VINDMAN:  I want to take a moment to recognize the courage of my colleagues who appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee.  I want to say that the character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible.  It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate and this has been the custom of our country since the time of our founding fathers, but we are better than personal attacks. 


O`DONNELL:  And, John Heilemann, the personal attack was coming to him from the White House, from the White House Twitter account while he was testifying. 

HEILEMANN:  Indeed.  And, you know, I mean, at this point unsurprisingly given the way the president behaved last Friday even though the attacks he engaged in on Ambassador Yovanovitch were seen widely as backfiring, as undercutting the Republican cause, made Republican congressmen as vicious and vitriolic as they`ve been, made them uncomfortable, recognized their strategy was being undercut by the president. 

And yet, here we come around again two days later and the same attacks being launched against Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I just don`t think we should expect anything other than that now, but this is going to be the -- it`s an appalling state of affairs this become conventional.  But the president has no shame when it comes to who he determines to be his targets, and I think we should assume for as long as this process plays out, if the president can attack Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, (INAUDIBLE) a Purple Heart, he can attack anyone, and he will. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ned, this can be said of all the witnesses today.  No matter what you think of their particular credibility points you might want to challenge, they all have stepped up where John Bolton has refused.  I mean, when you look at Tim Morrison, he`s in exactly the same status.  I mean, precisely the same status as John Bolton. 

He no longer works in the government, no longer works in the White House.  He had a job right under Bolton`s jurisdiction and there he is in the witness chair.  There he is.  He`s not sitting there with his $2 million book deal in New York the way John Bolton is. 

PRICE:  John Bolton, which you alluded to, has stepped up in a couple of ways.  He gave a talk before Morgan Stanley in recent weeks, presumably highly paid, and we also understand that during that talk, he talked about President Trump`s affinity for the Turks not because he favors U.S. foreign policy towards Turkey and thinks we need closer ties, but he looks to Turkey as a lucrative market. 

And this is precisely what we`re talking about in this Ukraine scandal.  It`s President Trump consistently placing his other than personal and political interests ahead of the national interests.  John Bolton was willing to chat about that to Morgan Stanley in the context of Turkey.  It is surprising and it is shameful that he`s not willing to talk about that to the United States Congress. 

You know, I think the other point, Lawrence, and I think it became clear today why Republicans are turning to these attacks, these shameful attacks of dual loyalty and latching onto ancillary issues.  You have to remember that the witnesses today, Tim Morrison, being one of them, these were minority witnesses. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, just to make it clear to the audience, the two witnesses called in the afternoon were called by the Republicans.  They were Republican witnesses. 

PRICE:   They were supposed to present the best case that Republicans have against this impeachment and just look what we learned.  Tim Morrison made very clear that he raised concerns with the lawyers three times during this period.  He made very clear it was Donald Trump himself who put a hold on this security assistance for Ukraine.  He confirmed his understanding that Gordon Sondland made the extortive scheme very clear to the Ukrainians. 

And Kurt Volker for his part, praised Vice President Biden and Marie Yovanovitch.  And these are the people who are supposed to make the case against impeachment.  They made the case against Trump and these outlandish conspiracy theories. 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Sherman, what do you make of Ambassador Volker`s testimony today and what he admits being willing to do, which is to say actually write the words that he wanted the president of Ukraine to say into the microphone as Donald Trump wanted him to do specifying the investigation of Burisma, specifying the investigation of 2016 election. 

Kurt Volker admitted to being willing to go pretty far with what Rudy Giuliani was demanding. 

SHERMAN:  It`s quite extraordinary.  I`ve known Kurt Volker for a very long time.  I`ve admired him.  I`ve talked to him when he got this position, thought it was a good thing. 

But quite frankly, I was terribly disappointed today.  He was not only threading a needle, he was splitting hairs right and left all along the way.  And indeed, he helped to draft a statement for Zelensky while at the same time telling the members incredulously that he really never made the connection between Burisma and Biden. 

So what was he doing?  He said he was really helping to make a statement that was anti-corruption when in fact the only corruption that was going on here was by the president of the United States. 

And as others have pointed out today and certainly pointed out in the hearing today, the president has not gone after corruption in Turkey.  He`s not gone after corruption in Russia.  Heaven only knows he hasn`t gone after corruption and murder in Saudi Arabia.  He hasn`t gone against corruption with his bromance with Kim Jong-un. 

So the president got a long way to go, and wouldn`t even include corruption in his phone script that had been prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and the NSC staff. 

O`DONNELL:  And Ambassador Volker testified today under oath that he had breakfast with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. to talk about Rudy Giuliani wanted from Ukraine and Ambassador Volker wants us to believe that the word Biden never came up, that Rudy Giuliani got through the entire breakfast and never said the word Biden.  That is very difficult strain on credibility. 

We`re going to have to take a break here. 

Wendy Sherman, Ned Price, John Heilemann, thank you all for starting us off tonight. 

And when we come, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the House Intelligence Committee will join us next. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York`s 18th congressional district asked Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman about his opening statement when Colonel Vindman told his father not to worry about him because he`s telling the truth. 


MALONEY:  He would worry if you were putting yourself up against the president of the United States, is that right?

VINDMAN:  He deeply worried because in his contacts, there was -- there was the ultimate risk. 

MALONEY:  And why do you have confidence you can do that and tell your dad not to worry? 

VINDMAN:  Congressman, because this is America.  This is the country I`ve served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters. 

MALONEY:  Thank you, sir.  I yield back. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat from New York.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and was obviously at today`s hearing. 

Congressman Maloney, that was a very powerful section of the testimony.  It`s actually got a much longer burst of applause there than we showed on the video. 

What made you want to bring Colonel Vindman`s attention back to that statement he made directly to his father in the opening statement? 

MALONEY:  Well, I just thought it was moving.  You know, I think all of us who read it were struck by it.  And, you know, in the hurried moments early in the hearing, I just didn`t -- I didn`t feel it got the attention it deserved, and I just really wanted to ask him about it, and boy, you know, I got more than I bargained for. 

I mean, what he said at the end, I mean I get emotional thinking about it.  When he said this is America, you know, I`ve fought for it, my brothers fought for it, and here, right matters.  Boy, that`s our challenge it seems to me.  You know, because I -- I think that`s up in the air, frankly, whether it`s going to matter, whether this is going to get through. 

And I just feel we owe it to guys like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman to make sure he`s right about that. 

O`DONNELL:  I just want to show a passage where Jim Jordan was trying to go after the colonel`s judgment and qualifications.  Let`s take a look how that played up.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  So your boss had concerns about your judgment, your former boss, Dr. Hill, had concerns about your judgment.  Your colleagues had concerns about your judgment and your colleagues felt there were times when you leaked information. 

Any idea why they have those impressions, Colonel Vindman? 

VINDMAN:  Yes, Representative Jordan, I guess I`ll start by reading Dr. Hill`s own words as she -- she attested to in my last evaluation that was dated middle of July right before she left.  Alex is a top 1 percent military officer, and the best Army officer I had worked with in my 15 years of government service.  He is brilliant, unflappable and exercises excellent judgment. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, as you know, there`s more to it that he was too modest to continue reading.  But best army officer I`ve worked with in 15 years of government service is about as high praise as you can get. 

MALONEY:  Right.  And you`re not selected to work on the National Security Council unless you`re one of the very best.  Everything about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman screams excellence, and not just excellence but real duty.  And he used that word. 

You know, why did you report it when you knew it was wrong?  Because it`s my duty, he said. 

Remember Mr. Morrison is reporting it, too, but he`s reporting it so that they restrict access and cover it up.  Vindman went out there because he knew it was wrong.  And thank God, there`s still guys like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who know right from wrong, and it`s these foreign service officers and these military officers who right now are going to save our democracy. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, what was your assessment of the most important points of evidence in today`s hearings? 

MALONEY:  Well, you have now direct witnesses saying we heard the president with our own ears, Jennifer Williams said it, who`s worked for Vice President Pence, who`s worked for a bunch of Republicans, and you`ve got Lieutenant Colonel Vindman saying we heard it and we knew it was wrong, in some in substance.  She said it was inappropriate and unusual, he said it was improper and reported it. 

And then, of course, you`ve got Ambassador Volker who says, oh, if I`d only known that Burisma meant the Bidens, I would have raised my own objections, I would have considered it to be wrong.  That`s a big shift from when he came in to testify the first time.  And I`m glad he`s cleaning that up, but it aligns his testimony with the other witnesses. 

And, of course, Mr. Morrison who also heard the call, who confirms all the key events in question and who then by his actions demonstrated how serious he knew it was.  These were all witnesses who were in the room, who were directly listening to the president, who were responsible for the policy. 

You know, they detonate the Republican talking point that this is only second or third hand or hearsay.  This is powerful testimony. 

O`DONNELL:  And Tim Morrison established the Sondland principle I guess we can call it at this point where Sondland told him that the only way Ukraine is going to get the aid is if they publicly announce the investigations. 

MALONEY:  Yes, no, that`s right.  We know Ambassador Sondland who will testify tomorrow delivered the, you know, unvarnished quid pro quo to the Ukrainians in Warsaw on September 1st.  You don`t get the aid, you don`t get the White House meeting unless we get the specific language in a statement by the president to CNN.  They literally said that in the calls for the investigations of the Bidens. 

Ambassador Sondland now is going to come in and testify to that.  He`s, of course, going to have to remember now the conversation he had that David Holmes overheard that he -- that he so famously characterized as the president not giving an expletive about Ukraine, only about the investigation of the Bidens.  Mr. Sondland is a very important witness because he`s, again, directly speaking to the president. 

O`DONNELL:  Quickly before you go, Congressman, Ambassador Sondland tomorrow is going to have to change his testimony again.  He`s changed his under oath testimony for your committee once before.  He`s obviously going to have to change it in relation to David Holmes overhearing the now infamous cellphone call. 

Is Gordon Sondland`s legal future on the line in how he testifies under oath tomorrow morning? 

MALONEY:  Of course, it is.  But then it is for every witness who testifies under oath.  That`s to be expected. 

I think if Ambassador Sondland resolves to tell the whole truth, then he can come in and he won`t have anything to worry about.  You know, none of us are out to get ambassador Sondland, and none of us even want him to say any particular thing.  We just want the truth.  We want him to come in and tell us what he knows. 

It should not be this hard, to get someone to talk about events that happened just a few weeks before his first testimony.  And we are getting there because of the way we approached this investigation which was not to not let him coordinate this testimony with other witnesses, to do it behind closed doors at first, like any good investigator would.  And then to surround him with other testimony that he cannot evade, and so he has to tell the truth. 

I think you`re going to see him come with the whole truth tomorrow. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and I`m sure I speak for everyone in our audience including by the way Republicans on the committee are all very impressed with the way you used your five minutes in these hearings and we really appreciate your joining us tonight.  Thank you very much, Congressman.

MALONEY:  Well, that`s very kind but the real thanks goes to these witnesses.  They`ve done the hard thing.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Congressman.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, NSC advisor Tim Morrison had some trouble today explaining why he immediately went to White House lawyer after hearing President Trump`s phone call with the President of Ukraine?


O`DONNELL: One strange aspect of today`s testimony is why Tim Morrison immediately reported President Trump`s phone call with President Zelensky of Ukraine to White House lawyer John Eisenberg? What`s strange about that is that Tim Morrison testified in his opening statement that he didn`t think that the President did anything wrong in the phone call.

But Tim Morrison also testified that he has never rushed to a White House lawyer`s office after listening to any other presidential phone call. He said that his big worry after the phone call was that the memo of the phone call might leak.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): If it was a perfect call would you have had a concern of it leaking?

TIM MORRISON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL TOP RUSSIA EXPERT: Well, no I would still have a concern about it leaking.

SCHIFF: And would you have thought it was appropriate if President Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate John Kasich or to investigate Nancy Pelosi or to investigate Ambassador Volker? Would that be appropriate?

MORRISON: In those hypothetical cases, no. Not appropriate.

SCHIFF: But you`re not sure about Joe Biden?

MORRISON: Sir, again, I can only speak to what I understood at the time and why I acted the way I did at the time.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now Tess Bridgeman, Former Deputy Legal Advisor to the National Security Counsil and Associate White House Council in the Obama Administration also joining us National Security Expert and Former Republican Senate Staff Member Tom Nichols.

And Tess, whenever they`re running to the White House lawyers in this testimony I`m always thinking of you, because you used to be in that office that they were running to in this testimony today. What did you make of Tim Morrison`s rush to the lawyers - and the lawyer he`s rushing to that position was your boss when you were working in the White House, is that right?

TESS BRIDGEMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL, FORMER DEPUTY LEGAL ADVISOR: Yes, that`s exactly right, and it`s an odd answer that Morrison gives that he rushed straight to the office of John Eisenberg and he also does mention his deputy Michael Ellis to make them aware generally of the call and because of concerns about a potential leak.

But when pressed what was it that you specifically wanted the NSC`s lawyers to be aware of, he`s not able to give a direct answer to that question. And when asked why is it that you`re concerned this call might leak, it doesn`t really make much sense that`s the kind of concern you`d go to the NSC Legal Office about. So both aspects of his answer to this question, why did you run straight to NSC Legal don`t seem to quite add up.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, did it make any sense to you?

TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: I couldn`t figure it out. It seemed like he knew something was wrong, he sort of blurted that out for a moment. And then at one point he was asked why did you go to lawyer and he said he wasn`t in the room, he wasn`t at the meeting. And of course the immediate question is would that be normal?

So he wasn`t in the room. And then again he was asked, and he said well I just wanted to let them know what happened. And what did you think happen? Well, nothing happened. Everything was fine. As one does I just ran off to a lawyer after a phone call. The whole thing was really strange.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and he`d never done that before. Let`s listen to what he said about how the memo of the phone call ended up getting filed in a high security file? Let`s listen to this.


DANIEL GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR DEMOCRATS ON INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And what reason did Mr. Eisenberg give you for why the call record was put in the highly classified system?

MORRISON: It was a mistake.

GOLDMAN: He said it was just a mistake?

MORRISON: It was an administrative error.


O`DONNELL: Tess, your reaction to that one?

BRIDGEMAN: Yes, you cannot move a document to that system by mistake. He may be trying to indicate that it was a miscommunication but others have testified that no, indeed, it was clear that the direction was to move the transcript to this highly classified code word server.

The other thing that was clear today in Morrison`s testimony he was asked couldn`t you have just restricted access in the normal system to this transcript if you were so concerned about it, and he answered truthfully yes he could have done so. So that once again begs the question if really the only concern was that only those with a need to know would have access to this then random conversation why not use the normal controls to make sure that wasn`t the case, and once again he wasn`t able to answer that question.

O`DONNELL: And Republicans on the committee had no problem with Tim Morrison speaking to White House Counsil after the President`s phone call. They did seem bothered the Republicans that Colonel Vindman did the same thing. Let`s listen to Colonel Vindman explaining that it was his sense of duty that was guiding him in his choices.

What Vindman said - we don`t have the video, but what he said is he wanted to emphasize to the committee when he reported his concerns, I did so out of a sense of duty. I privately reported my concerns in official channels to the property authority in the chain of command. Tom, what was your reaction to the way Colonel Vindman handled his explanation how he conducted himself after the President`s phone call with President of Ukraine?

NICHOLS: It seems to be Lieutenant Colonel Vindman did the thing that normal people would. I was in a meeting, something very wrong happened, I decided that I had to take this to, you know, the legal folks that exist for moments like this, for a person on the NSC staff to go and talk to. What was really interesting is that when Morrison was asked the same question, you know, why didn`t you go to your immediate reporting superior, Morrison suddenly didn`t have an answer, I went right to the lawyer because he`s kind of my peer and not my superior.

So basically the Republican narrative is that everything Vindman did was wrong, everything Morrison did was right even though what they did was pretty closely the same. It seems that the big difference between them is that they were mad at Vindman because he didn`t just keep it in the family, he didn`t keep it under wraps the way Morrison did apparently.

And that Vindman pursued this to make sure that his complaint or his concerns were aired. Morrison`s answers on this just didn`t make any sense to me.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols and Tess Bridgeman thank you both for your insights on today`s testimony. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, today the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had to teach a class, a little mini quick class, law school class on bribery because his Republican colleagues apparently don`t know what it is. That`s next.



REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, (R-TX): Ms. Williams, you never used the word bribery or bribe to explain President Trump`s conduct, correct?


RATCLIFFE: Colonel Vindman you haven`t either?


RATCLIFFE: The problem is in an impeachment inquiry that the Speaker of the House says is all about bribery where bribery is the impeachable offense, no witness has used the word bribery to describe President Trump`s conduct, none of them.


O`DONNELL: So case closed on bribery, I guess.


SCHIFF: Bribery for those watching at home is the conditioning of official acts in exchange for something of personal value.


O`DONNELL: Boy, if John Heilemann knew law school could be that easy. Joining us now Mimi Rocah, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York she is an MSNBC Legal Contributor and John Heilemann is back with us. Mimi, how are they doing on the bribery case?

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I mean apparently since no witness said it, no one said on the phone call this was happening this was bribery, there is no bribery. Obviously it is laughable that the idea that, you know, somebody involved in the crime has to call out what it is or that fact witnesses or victims like you Yovanovitch, you know, that they would be the ones to call it what it is.

The Democrats have been consistent. There was this whole theory out there that oh, it was quid pro quo and now its bribery. Quid pro quo is bribery. It`s part of the crime. And witness after witness has established and even their own witnesses, the ones who are the supposed witnesses Republican witnesses today have established that the aid and the meeting were conditioned on getting Trump what he wanted which was the announcement of the investigations. That is bribery plain and simple whether or not someone involved in the crime called it that.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and then Ari Melber wrote a great op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" defining this case in the framework of bribery a couple of weeks ago. If the Democrats had been saying bribery from the start on this before developing the evidence and developing it publicly the Republicans would be saying how dare you say bribery and now they`re trying to claim oh, you`re changing your story to bribery?

JOHN HEILEMANN, THE RECOUNT EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: You know those of us old enough to remember the history of the Republican Party and its work shopping focus grouping of language terms, the frank ones for yes, or no the Republican Party, how torture became enhanced interrogation techniques.

How the party`s history in deploying language for political effect find it laughable and hypocritical for Republicans to be seizing on this particular point. But of course the relevant points is the point that Mimi acts as a lawyer, the one lawyer I believe at the table in which is that the way it works in court is fact witnesses say what they saw and then lawyers can determine what the crime is that is painted by the picture of all the facts that are presented in the case.

I just - yes, it is the case that there are a number of different names you can call what Donald Trump has done here. Some of them are legal terms. Some are political terms. They`re all bad.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a break here. John and Mimi, stay with us please. When we come back, no one has had a bigger struggle with the truth under oath in the impeachment inquiry than Gordon Sondland and at 9.00 am tomorrow Gordon Sondland will get just one more chance to tell the whole truth. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: No witness is in more trouble in the impeachment inquiry than Gordon Sondland who is now less than 11 hours away from testifying tomorrow morning at 9.00 am. Gordon Sondland will be under more pressure tomorrow morning than any other witness who has yet testified in the impeachment investigation because Gordon Sondland has to work his way out of a perjury trap that he set for himself.

Donald Trump`s million-dollar donor turned first time Ambassador, Gordon Sondland, has already changed his under oath testimony once. Tomorrow, he`s going to have to change it again. Now that we know about his famous cell phone call from a restaurant in Ukraine to the President of the United States in which he told President Trump that President Zelensky was ready to do the investigations that Donald Trump wants and that President Zelensky would do anything that Donald Trump wants.

And I cleaned that up the transcript of that phone call. And Gordon Sondland`s previous under oath testimony, when he was asked to reveal all of his conversations with President Trump about Ukraine, he never mentioned the most memorable phone call of them all, the most memorable phone call of this entire investigation.

That cell phone call from the restaurant in Kyiv when Gordon Sondland sits down at the witness table tomorrow morning at 9:00, his future is at stake. Will he be the next Trump associate charged with a crime or will he be able to save himself by finally telling the whole truth? That`s next.



GOLDMAN: So just we`re clear, you reported two concerning conversations that you had with Ambassador Sondland to the lawyers in early September. In which you understood from him that the President was withholding security assistance as additional leverage to get Ukraine to publicly announce this specific political investigations that President Trump had discussed on the July 25th call. Is that accurate?

VOLKER: I was concerned about what Ambassador Sondland was saying were requirements, yes.


O`DONNELL: Mimi Rocah and Heilemann are back with us and Mimi today`s hearings certainly teed things up for the Sondland hearing tomorrow. You`re Sondland`s lawyer tonight. You`ve watched the testimony today. How do you prepare Gordon Sondland tomorrow to go in there and add to his testimony? Especially about the new cell phone call we all know about?

ROCAH: I don`t think he has a choice and here`s why. He has been thrown under the bus by everyone.

O`DONNELL: Did not he lie his way under the bus by leaving out these phone calls?

ROCAH: Well, a different bus. That`s the perjury bus. I`m talking about the Republicans and their witnesses are trying to say, look, to the extent there was anything untoward here, we were just looking at public corruption. There was nothing untoward here. To the extent that anyone was conditioning anything that was the rogue actors, Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland.

Not, and maybe Mick Mulvaney but not the president. They`re able to keep him a little bit out of it with these counter sensical arguments but they do it. Sondland is the one who can say, no, no, I was talking to Trump. We already know that if you take all the evidence together. We know it from the phone call we know that from Trump being on the front lawn saying it.

But Gordon Sondland is the one witness who can actually sit in that chair and say these are the conversations I had with Trump about this. And right now I think they`re trying to put it all on Sondland and Giuliani and that is going to happen and he is going to face potential exposure for more than just perjury but potential bribery himself if he doesn`t say here what`s going on.

It is the classic mob boss trying to blame it on the under links. And I think, if I`m his lawyer, I tell him come clean and don`t let that happen.

O`DONNELL: But, I mean what I look at John is what was the conversations done with the lawyer already because I mean, all of this stuff that he is - having to revise his lawyer should have known about in the first instance they shouldn`t have to go through it this night.

HEILEMANN: Sure. And obviously he`s made a bunch of mistakes, along the way tactical errors that are pretty significant. I think the nature of the conversation now and again not being lawyer I speak to this in somewhat speculatively but the conversation has to be that you face a choice tomorrow either you`re going to tell truth and you`re going to directly implicate the President in all of this and save yourself in the way that Mimi has just suggested or you`re going to plead the fifth.

And of course that is now all the talk in Washington, D.C., is about the possibility that Gordon Sondland might walk in to the hearing room tomorrow and plead the fifth. Again, wild speculation but there is no topic right now in Washington, D.C. that is more feverishly being discussed. Could this be the first time we see someone do that.

O`DONNELL: So the people who could be in more trouble with Gordon Sondland`s testimony tomorrow would include President Trump and Gordon Sondland but also possibly Kurt Volker. Let`s take a look at this exchange with Congressman Maloney and Kurt Volker. Let`s watch this.


REP. PATRICK MALONEY, (D-NY): When you have objected to the President, asking for an investigation of the Bidens as you sit here now, you said I would have raised my own objections.


MALONEY: If you knew it was the Bidens.

VOLKER: If I knew we were talking about investigating Vice President Biden and asking the Ukrainians that would be inappropriate and I would have objected to that.


O`DONNELL: Meaning what happens if Gordon Sondland goes in there tomorrow and says, oh, yes, I told Kurt Volker it was about the Bidens we were investigating the Bidens. What happens to that under oath testimony that we just saw?

ROCAH: Well, then he`s possibly facing perjury charges. He didn`t equivocate. He didn`t say I don`t remember. He was pretty clear. I still think that Sondland, he has to look at what`s happened here. He`s really painted as the fall guy here so yes, he is boxed himself into a possible perjury corner and that is his doing. But he is also looking, I think, at potential bribery charges down the road because everyone has implicated him in this. If he doesn`t come clean, then all those statements get used against him.

O`DONNELL: And we of course, going to have a line by line analysis of the famous cell phone call from the restaurant in Ukraine with Russia listening, with every intelligence agency possibly in Europe listening to that. Mimi Rocah and John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining us. That is tonight`s LAST WORD.